« April Break Staycation Day #6-10 - Cannot keep up »

You know the old saying... your eyes are bigger than your belly... Well, my ambition of blogging was a bit more than I could handle by the end of the week.  For a guy used to going home to an empty house and enjoying the television at sound level 5 or 6 (depending if the dryer is running).  27 Teenage girls and a television at sound level 80+, along with the planning that goes into a training trip overwhelmed me by the end of the week.  So, here is a summary of the 2nd half of the training trip:

Wednesday:  Coaches pull a fast one & Fish.  We decided that Wednesday afternoon would be off.  Give the kids a little extra rest time.  We had plans for a dinner out and a movie, but the movie options were not appealing - especially as compared to OTH.  So, after morning practice - and one of our only flat water practices - the coaches quickly changed plans and decided that we would spend the dinner money and bring the kids out to breakfast instead - then we would return to the boathouse for a late morning practice and take advantage of the flat water while we had it.  While the kids may have felt a little tricked (we still got 2 practices out of them), they certainly understood given the conditions.  Breakfast was a blast!  We took the kids to Denny's and although it is not my favorite restaurant, it was a wise choice.  During breakfast a nice older gentleman came by the table and gave us a coupon for 10% off our entire order - 30 people.  Then, Denny's accepted our tax exempt certificate!  What a great deal.  We saved almost $60 on breakfast with those deals.  During the last few practices there was a lot of talk surrounding Coach Wilson's dog, and how the kids thought we should get a boathouse pet.  I shot down all their ideas (I am allergic to dogs, cats, feathers, turtles are too slow, no body likes rodents) until they got to fish.  Actually, I think that a fish might survive in the boathouse (and they only cost $0.30).  McHart offered to buy the fish, and I told them we could get a few, and I would see how well they take care of them before we invest in anything other than a bowl and some food.  Off to PetSmart we went.  They carefully selected a few fish, and named them after "One Tree Hill" characters - which I thought was an improvement from their original choices of lil' Wayne and a bunch of other rappers I didn't recognize.  Here's hoping they can responsibly care for the fish and maybe we will start a new tradition.  Oh... and we arrived home after late morning practice to find SNOW in Corinth.  When most teams travel to warmer locales... SRA girls go to the snow?  That evening we watched our resident SRA member and actor/writer/director Marcus Fuller in "One Fall" ate tacos, and went to bed early

Thursday: Spa Day & Bonfire.  After a nice relaxed evening the previous night, Thursday held a treat in the afternoon.  After the AM row, we rented out the community center at the Waters Edge.  They spent the afternoon in the 13 person hot tub, the indoor pool, and some played raquetball and ping pong.  Of course there were a few diehards that watched One Tree Hill on their iPhone.  The seniors, and a few selected others were treated to Massages (thanks to Mrs Boss) and thanks to Mrs. Hogan everyone had the opportunity to have their nails done.  I never knew that there were so many shades of polish.  I know about 15 different colors... they had 15 different names for RED.  After Spa day, A few girls came over to help Matt and I with the race course (Caroline got covered in fish creek slime :-) and a few went to Beans to help with a cake.  The others rested in the sun for an hour or so before 2nd practice.  We had some crazy weather for the second practice.  We launched off the dock and most of the crews headed to the North End of the lake, but I had a sneaking suspicion that the wind would die (the pattern was set while we were working on the race course) so we rowed up toward Staffords.  It turned out to be a good choice because the wind did die, and the water got nice again!  The practice was a treat for me as I got to sit in the launch and listen while Coach Wilson coached the crew.  She has a great way of expressing how to feel the boat and how to complete your strokes well.  When we landed, we went straight up to Corinth and got ready to head over to Nanny Midge's house (Grandma Wegner).  It turned out to be a perfect night for a BBQ and a bonfire.  We had a basketball game and a volleyball game going until the sunset, then we gathered around the bonfire for Smores and a campfire game called "realm"... I think I won.  No one guessed my realm for almost 30 minutes (the only things in my realm had an 'E' as the third letter).  It was a great evening activity, and Nanny was a gracious host.

Friday:  Race Day!  Everyone could feel the trip coming to a close on Friday, and while that was a little sad, the energy level of the team was high.  When we decided to stay in Saratoga, we arranged a scrimmage with Albany for Friday afternoon.  We rarely go this long on the water without racing, so they were itching to go.  With race day excitement buzzing there was little else on the minds of the girls, and I thought the afternoon would be adventure free... until... on the way home from morning practice, all of the sudden Lexi starts screaming "it's mater, it's mater!  Stop! OMG it's mater!"  I have NO idea what she is saying - and it kind of freaks me out.  She is sitting shotgun and screaming gibberish.  All I hear is the word stop.  Then, all the rest of the van joins in the screaming - and I am sure I am the only one who doesn't understand.  So, I calmly pull over and ask what they are saying.  "mater from cars" - I still don't get it - "tow-mater" - still nothing - "mater and lightning" - are we speaking the same language?.  Finally one of the girls brings their voice pitch down into the human range and explains.  The character from the movie "cars" is named Mater, and there was a replica parked on the side of the road a little ways back.  OHHH.  So we go back and take some pictures.  Actually, now that I have written that whole thing... it might have been thursday that we saw Mater and Lightning McQueen... It all blends together after a while!  The afternoon comes around and everyone is getting excited.  We head back to Toga a little early to meet ARC for the race.  At first glance it looks as if we might have another nice water day... but by the time we got ourselves out onto the race course, Mother Nature had different ideas!   It was the choppiest head wind I have seen on Fish Creek!  Because of the orientation of the river, we tend to get a rare north wind that brings chop, and a normal south wind that doesn't chop the water.  This spring has been the exact opposite (maybe the Mayan's were right and the poles are flipping) we have had a more regular north wind that wasn't too choppy, and a nasty choppy south wind.  In any case, both coaches were game for the challenge, and the rowers were too excited to care.  As we left the dock it wasn't too bad, but up at the start line, it was pretty rough.  The first flight consisted of SRA 2v8, ARC 2v8, SRA 4x, SRA 4x, and ARC boys 1x (I was impressed with him in the conditions!).  The race started with waves crashing over the riggers and all crews pushing hard into the wind.  Gradually, over the course of the race, the water flattened out a bit, but the wind was still pushing.  The conditions were challenging, but the race unfolded evenly with SRA2V8 coming back from a seat or two down off the start and steadily moving away to about a 20 second win.  The quads finished shortly after with the single in between.  As the race unfolded the Albany coach and I decided that one race into those conditions was probably enough (we had planned on doing pieces) and we let the kids know they could head back to the dock.  We then proceeded up to the start for the next flight.  In this race we lines up the SRA1v8 and the ARC1v8 and an ARC boys 4x.  The conditions were still pretty rough, but the 2 eights had a little easier time of it (the quad caught a crab and quickly got left behind).  ARC jumped again to a slight early lead, and held the seat or two for the first few hundred meters.  Slowly SRA started creeping back, and then crawling up.  As we got into the middle of the race, SRA started walking thru ARC.  Racing in conditions like this is extremely challenging, if the wind catches your blade, or a wave catches, you can easily stumble and the other boat can move forward on you a bit.  You have to be persistent, you have to be able to shake off bad strokes and get right back on it.  There is no room to be frustrated.  Accept what you have and move forward.  You cannot feel sorry for yourself, and you cannot place blame on the conditions, and you cannot allow excuses... you have to accept reality of the situation and choose your path forward of you are to succeed.   The girls did a GREAT job of that.  They had plenty of ugly strokes, but they didn't let it phase them.  They continued without excuse and eventually they started walking thru Albany.  As they entered the last few hundred meters, and the choppy water leveled out their persistence paid off and they ran away to about 3/4 of a length of open water at the finish.  It was a solid performance by both crews in the conditions, and I was particularly proud of the SRA crews for their confidence in the plan and faith in their abilities.  It is easy to doubt in the face of a slower start and in the face of tough conditions... there was no doubt in the girls today.  Well done.

As a reward for the fantastic week of training, we had arranged a fancy dress up dinner at Bistro LeRuex.  We rushed home from the race and got dressed up very quickly (good thing we had 8 working bathrooms!) And off to dinner we went.  Coach Wilson even got to join us!  Upon arriving, we were greeted with open arms by the owner and the owners family.  Maybe they really liked us, or maybe they were just happy for a $750 bill :-).  I do know one thing... the boys who were filling up the waters kept them full all night (any excuse to spend a few minutes in the room with 30 beautiful girls).  Dinner was AWESOME.  And, my favorite part, we got there at 8, and I was signing the check at 9:10.  Amazing!  We didn't even set a price fixed menu or pre-order.  We got whatever we wanted off the menu, all got served around the same time, and were done in just over an hour.  4 stars in my book!  As we walked out the door, Bean overheard a restaurant patron saying "they look like a bunch of supermodels" and another replied "rowing will do that to you".  I agree.

Saturday:  The departure.  We agreed there was a lot of work to be done packing up and cleaning up to go home, so, while we let the kids sleep in an extra 1/2 hour until 7:00, we did get an early start.  From 7-9 all 30 of us packed and cleaned and loaded our flatbed trailer and emptied the fridge.  I was actually pretty impressed with the efficiency of the group.  We finished a little early and made out last trip over the mountain to Toga.  One final technical row (in the wind) and noon came around.  Parents arrived and kids returned home to their own beds (I am sure they napped) and to their homework.

This was one of my most favorite trips we have taken in the past few years.  I thought the girls were awesome.  There was no drama (other than One Tree Hill) and even with the windy conditions, the training went pretty well.  Thanks too all the parents who helped make this trip possible with the meal donations.  And thanks especially to Mrs. Kenison who carried a lot of this trip with her constant cooking, cleaning, running errands, etc... We owe her big time.  Truly an amazing effort.  We could not have done it without her.


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